205,000 miles.

That’s how far Apollo 13 was from earth on April 13, 1970, when an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Service Module upon which the Command Module had depended. Despite well-documented hardships caused by limited power, freezing temperatures, a shortage of potable water, and the critical need to make fast repairs, the Apollo 13 crew returned safely to earth just days later.

As someone who grew up fascinated by the NASA space program, I am thrilled to share that Jim Lovell and Gene Kranz of the Apollo 13 mission will be keynote speakers at our annual customer event, Maximize 2017, this September in Las Vegas where they will share their stories of leadership, perseverance and competence.

Image: NASA/Apollo 13 Lunar Surface Journal

The story of Apollo 13 is an extreme example of field service where “the machine” had to be fixed and decisions needed to be made quickly in a life-threatening situation. The majority of field service projects are not quite so dramatic, but they are still critical to their industries.

There are tens of millions of field service technicians around the world who maintain billions of machines that have a profound impact on our lives — in our homes, at our work, at our hospitals and cities and airports. Literally everywhere.

Image: Shutterstock

Who are these everyday heroes? They come out to repair your refrigerator when it’s on the fritz. They pro-actively fix machines within factories that are building vehicles, solar panels and computers. The power company dispatches a technician to evaluate an underperforming electrical transformer. And then, there is the ultimate field service. Work that needs to be done under extreme circumstances. I’m talking about 2,000-plus meters under water on an oil rig. Or miles from earth on the way to the moon.

According to Gartner Research, through 2020, 80 percent of organizations with more than 75 field technicians will miss more than 20 percent of the planned efficiency gains due to incomplete integration or deployment of field service management solutions. That is a lot of money left on the table for those organizations.

The manufacturing industry depends on field service to maintain assets to minimize downtime and increase the rate of production. Oil and gas businesses need to stay ahead of the curve in the environment of low energy prices. Business leaders want to grow productivity while enabling positive cash flow. Life science and medical equipment manufacturers build, install and maintain life-saving technologies. In the environment where strong competition and heavy regulation is the norm, companies need to prove they are the right partner to medical facilities.

The benefits go beyond the bottom line — field service brings companies closer to their end customers. With the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), companies can monitor customers’ product usage and performance, and offer personalized services to help them better serve their own customers.

One of the things that has always been different about ServiceMax is our passion for the field service industry. I encourage you to visit us at Maximize 2017, the most valuable field service event in the industry where you can hear first-hand from your peers and talk with the most knowledgeable field service industry experts.

Review the agenda and register at www.servicemax.com/maximize

I look forward to seeing you there.

ABOUT Dave Yarnold

Avatar photoDave Yarnold is the former chief executive officer of ServiceMax. A veteran of the SaaS and field service industries, Dave believed in field service management’s massive potential nearly a decade ago and has been instrumental in building FSM into a thriving industry. Follow Dave on Twitter @dyarnold.